An Exponential Growth in Data
As buyers research options, they are leaving bits of data about themselves and their activities all over the Internet, which are being fed back to vendors via various tools to inform their marketing decisions. Data is nothing without analysis to understand what it means to buyer behavior and why it’s important to the buyer journey; only then can companies harness the power of its data to improve the experience. The question becomes how to use data to recognize preferences across channels and devices. But that’s difficult when the amount of data can be overwhelming, because it comprises, at a minimum, the following:
- Personal information such as name and title
- Demographic and firmographic information
Behavioral information, such as the following:
- On-site activity—pages visited, content downloaded, on-site search queries, form completions
- Offsite activity—ads clicked, social media activity, event participation
- Campaign activity—e-mails opened, links clicked
When used correctly, this data can be used to improve the relationship between the potential buyer and the company by personalizing communication, digital experiences, and content. But two problems quickly arise with so much data:
- Information can live in many different places within a company, from the CRM database, to Excel spreadsheets on sales executives’ desktops, and even to filing cabinets. That means data is siloed and not shared across the company, with different departments having a different view of prospects and customers, depending on what information they’re keeping.
- Data can quickly become out-of-date (leading to what is known as “decay”), which leads to another problem: data hygiene, in which a database devolves over time to contain unmailable contacts with out-of-date records, incomplete records, duplicate records, or even false records. Clean data, created by ongoing data maintenance, is the key to the successful execution of marketing campaigns.